Hi everybody! This Saturday was a good opportunity for Estonian cycling fans, to try out Specialized 2014 bikes. Specialized is one of the biggest bicycle companies in the world. Specialized story Specialized was founded in 1974 by Mike Sinyard, a cycling enthusiast who sold his Volkswagen Bus for $1,500 to fund a cycle tour to Europe, where he bought handlebars and stems made by Cinelli to take back to the US. Sinyard started out importing Italian bike components that were difficult to find in the United States, but the company began to produce its own bike parts by 1976, starting with the Specialized Touring Tire. In 1981, the company introduced its first two bikes, the Sequoia, a sport-touring design and the Allez, a road bike. Specialized also introduced the first major production mountain bike in the world, the Stumpjumper, in 1981. Like the Sequoia and Allez, the Stumpjumper was designed by Tim Neenan and based on an early Tom Ritchey design. Specialized continues to produce bikes under the Stumpjumper name, including both hardtail and full-suspension models. An original Stumpjumper is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. In 1989, Specialized introduced the Epic, the world’s second mass-production carbon fibre mountain bike. TEST THE BEST Specialized Concept Store Tallinn VO2 was the first bicycle retail in Estonia to offer bicycle testing in real conditions. The point of TEST THE BEST event, is to bring truck filled with bikes, to local trail centre and let people try different road and MTB bikes for free in real conditions, not just parking lots. I remember the first time in 2012, it was a very rainy day and my hands were a bit oily that time, because I worked there:
Last autumn I skipped the testing, but this spring I felt urge to see, what Specialized has for 2014. At first I wanted to find out, which bikes will they bring this time. My biggest interests were Epic and Camber. If public bike list came out, Camber wasn’t included. But they had Epic and SJ FSR, so I was happy :) Specialized knows, how to make a good design. Even their cars look really beautiful:
Weather was nice and sunny, despite the cold wind, which made temperature quite low 10ºC (50ºF). But I was there with my happy mood, ready to see, what Specialized offers to us this time. Specialized always rocks with their customer service. Water, to fill up your bottle, coffee, candies, bananas, wiener pies – all that to make sure you have a lot of energy, to try the bikes.
So I got to the testing ground, I wanted to try Epic first, but someone was already testing it, so I decided to take Stumpjumper FSR S-Works for a spin. STUMPY FSR:
I am a big lad 190cm (6’3″), so my bikes are always XL or even bigger. That FSR was XL, but the handlebar was sitting a bit too high even for me. Drivetrain For 9000€ XX1 is your only choice on a trail bike.
Wheels Purgatory 2.3 tire in the front and Ground Control tire 2.3 in the back. That makes an awesome tire combo for more aggressive riding and harder terrain, but for trails, were this FSR was tested, those tires are a bit overkill. For those trails, 2.2 Fast Tracks would have been perfect. Carbon rims and light weight (1570g according to Specialized), makes Roval Control Trail SL wheelset noticeably stiff. I am big fan of Specialized Hookless rims. They save weight and makes tubeless taping process easier. I’m looking forward to see other wheel manufacturers use hookless system too.
Brakes What can I say, I’ve never been a fan of Formula brakes. Their levelers look more like clothes racks. And feel like clothes racks also. I prefer straighter type of levelers like Shimano or Avid. T1’s had a lot of power, the bite was bit too strong for my taste, but I guess you adjust the pad contact, to make it more suitable for your taste.
Cockpit I like to have my bars wide. My Spark has 740mm, so I was missing a bit of wideness. Other than that, I like the shape of the Specialized mini risers. Cockpit choice is a very personal thing, so let’s move on.
For ass Specialized knows how to make saddles. Since I tried it for the first time, Henge is the most comfortable MTB saddle for my ass. I haven’t found a better one, and thou I am not using Henge on my Spark, ride with it, remembered me, that I want it back. Command post is also one fun thing. I only want Command Post for jumping, that is the only place were it is possible to crush your nuts with a high seat.
Fork On the front, there is 130mm FOX 34 CTD (Climb-Trail-Descent)Kashima, with factory tuning. I was crying for remote lock-out, because our climbs and descents are so short, that it is very uncomfortable to set it from Climb to Descent, 2 times in a minute. And if you set it on Trail, then it is still bit too soft, you could see and feel the fork below you moving and using your valuable energy. Other than that, the fork felt bottomless. I pushed it as hard as I could, without bottoming. That 34 is a very smooth fork, made me want to try 32 CTD on my Spark.
Shock Specialized is known for their brain technology. Simplified, suspension knows when to lock, and when to move. To get the real idea, you should watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-pFW2JKvOk Setting up the rear shock is the easiest thing ever thanks to Specialized Auto Sag. You just pump the shock up, sit on the bike, and let out all the extra air, through the valve beneath the red cap on the picture shown:
I could say, there are two types of people. There are one’s who love brain technology, and others who hate it. It depends very much of your riding style. I am a rider, who likes to play around on a bike a lot. This includes bunnyhops, pumping through holes, popping from one root to another and so on. Now with brain, if I want to pump, then I can’t do it, because brain stops me. Brain thinks “ahha now he started to pedal hard” and locks the system up. Of course you can open it up, 2014 brain has 4 clicks, but then you will lose the pedaling efficiency. So brain, is not my taste. But it can be yours. But even with opened brain, FSR is really pedaling friendly suspension system. SWAT For 2014 Specialized introduced convenient solution for carrying necessities while riding. SWAT (Storage, Water, Air, Tools) technology incorporates bikes, riders, and equipment by putting all necessities in a clean, sleek, and aerodynamic location that’s easy to access. More info about SWAT on Specialized page.
On the trail I tried to find the bike weight, but I could not. Bikerumor has deleted “Specialized 2014 actual weights” thread, and I could not find it from internet, so I derived it from last years weight and guess, that with pedals and tubes, SJ FSR S-Works weights around 12kg. I am bit surprised, because really, on the trail it didn’t feel so light. Bottomless suspension and a bit too tough tire pattern for Estonia, made it feel like 13-14kg bike. But that’s a trail bike and trail bike should go down the hill fast. That bike definitely was fast. When hitting a loose and steep section, this bike really home like home. In steep sections you understood, why the FSR is made. To conclude In my opinion SJ FSR is a downhill bike, which can climb well. It is capable of going big. It is definitely your “one-in-all” bike. For Estonian flat conditions, the bike wasn’t at home. With right setup you can adapt it for Estonia, but Camber or Epic would be reasonable here. SJ FSR is meant for people, who want to ride up a hill for 3 hours, then open up the suspension and go back down, as fast as you can. As I mentioned, I tried Epic also, so stay tuned for Epic review!!